Sunyer, Joaquim

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Joaquim Sunyer

Sitges, Barcelona, 1874

Sitges, Barcelona, 1956


His first paintings were done under the tutelage of Joaquim de Miró and Arcadi Mas i Fondevila, members of the Luminist School of Sitges. In 1889 he moves with his family to Barcelona. He enters the Llotja School of Fine Arts where he coincides with Mir, Canals, Nonell and Torres García. He shows his work for the first time at the General Exhibition of Fine Arts in Barcelona in 1894.

He discovered Paris at the end of the century during his trip in 1896. The beginnings of this period were hard for the artist, who reflects in his paintings of 1897-1899 his own poverty and that of his surroundings, in a style that echoed Steinlen and, more specifically, Daumier. In 1907, a visit to Cézanne’s retrospective was decisive in his career, as well as the influence of Matisse. During that year he also consolidated in the artistic society of Paris, thanks to the friendship and protection of the art dealer Henry Barbazanges, in whose gallery he exhibited in 1910, among the reviews of Apollinaire in L’Intransigéant and Salmon in the Paris-Journal. The structures of his pictorial lines arise from his contact with cubism, with those main protagonists he interacted both in Paris and in Céret.

A key exhibition is the one at the Faianç Català in Barcelona in 1911, where he presented Pastoral (1910-1911), an emblematic work of noucentisme. He became the preeminent figure of this trend achieving a unique synthesis between tradition and renovation, which played, along with Vázquez Díazy Arteta, a transitional role. He thus finds the appreciation of critics such as Junoy, who praised his character as a precursor, Salval-Papasseit and other members of the Catalan avant-garde. Gustave Croquiot included him in his important book Cubistes, futuristes et passéistes (1914).

Throughout his career he also collaborated with illustrations in magazines such as Almanac de La Revista, Un enemic del Poble or Alfar where Manuel Abril writes about him.

He was in Barcelona when the Great War began, and he collaborated actively with the Francophile propaganda. In 1919 he participates in the International Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture in Bilbao. Throughout the twenties he took part in several group exhibitions in Barcelona and Paris. In 1925, promoted by Eugenio d’Ors, he held his first individual exhibition in Madrid, at the Salón de los Amigos del Arte. That same year he signed, along with others, the manifesto of the Iberian Artists Exhibition. In 1950, the Museum of Modern Art of Madrid dedicated an anthological exhibition to him. His last individual exhibition takes place at the Syra Gallery in Barcelona in 1955, year in which his work is presented in the special room of the III Hispano-American Art Biennial.

Isabel Menéndez